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Professional Academic Writing in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Susan Peck MacDonald

Publication Year: 2010

Susan Peck MacDonald here tackles important and often controversial contemporary questions regarding the rhetoric of inquiry, the social construction of knowledge, and the professionalization of the academy.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Copyright Page

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pp. v

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pp. vii-ix

Increased attention to the social contexts of writing provides the intellectual framework that will be obvious in what follows. But long before scholarship in rhetoric turned its attention to contextual variation, my experiences as writer, teacher, and administrator were...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 3-20

From academic fields as diverse as rhetoric and composition, knowledge is more than merely a pale reflection of reality or a translation of already formed thought. The consensus takes different forms or constituting thought, rather than merely translating or superficially...

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2. Patterns in Disciplinary Variation

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pp. 21-50

If academic writing is a form of knowledge making, then differences in knowledge problems or ways of addressing such problems should account lor much of the variation among the disciplines. This chapter will focus on four patterns of variation that are discernible...

Case Studies in Three Subfields

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pp. 51-144

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3. Attachment Research: Compact Problem Definition in a Conceptually Driven Field

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pp. 53-73

Attachment research has developed over the last twenty to thirty years as a subfield of developmental psychology. Within the larger discipline of psychology, developmentalists focus on understanding infancy and childhood. Within that subfield, there are further...

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4. Colonial New England Social History: The Problematics of Contemporary History Writing

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pp. 74-108

The discipline of history illustrates some of the tensions between the knowledge-making modes of the humanities and the social sciences. On the continuum from particularistic, text-driven, interpretive discourse to conceptually driven, explanatory discourse, writing...

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5. Renaissance New Historicism: Epistemic and Non epistemic Textual Patterns

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pp. 109-144

The historians' lament -that work in New England social history has not yet produced agreed-upon synthetic generalizations has a kindred lament in current writing about literature. Reflecting on the rapid rise of "New Historicism" in Renaissance studies over...


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pp. 145-197

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6. Sentence-Level Differences in Disciplinary Knowledge Making

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pp. 147-169

The text-level patterns I have explored in the subfields of attachment research, colonial social history, and Renaissance New Historicism are created through language, so we should expect to find some trace of those differences at the sentence level. The traces should be...

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7. Professional Styles and Their Consequences

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pp. 170-197

The preceding chapters have suggested that variations in academic writing within the social sciences and humanities are not randomly distributed: the frequency of that-noun clauses as sentence objects in psychology ("Research suggests that") or the high incidence...

Appendix: The Sample

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pp. 201-202


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pp. 203-213


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pp. 215-231


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pp. 233-239

Author Bio

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pp. 240

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780809385997
E-ISBN-10: 0809385996
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809330072
Print-ISBN-10: 0809330075

Page Count: 250
Publication Year: 2010